In the first game of the Eastern Conference finals the Boston Celtics looked all but powerless against the Miami Heat.
It was a far cry from their 2008 NBA championship season when they were the 66-16 and the epitome of what the modern-day “big three” should look like. Pierce, Allen, and Garnett set the tone for every season that followed as they’ve made it to the conference finals every season since they’ve been together. This season, however, they are up against an opponent they may prove more difficult than any other they have faced in their time together.
Ray Allen (37), Paul Pierce (35), and Kevin Garnett (36) are no longer the forces they were even five years ago when they were at the tail end of their prime. They now face a Miami Heat team for the second season in a row that, in many ways, they helped to create when they came together back in 2007. Lebron James and Dwayne Wade are currently playing a dynamic duo with Chris Bosh out, but both are playing with an urgency that may spell trouble for the aging Celtics.
So the question now is: how do they stop them?
Well the answer isn’t that simple, of course; It never really is. But it starts and ends with the same name every time.
If there is one thing that I have no problem saying about this series it’s that the Celtics have a clear, no-doubt-about-it advantage over the Heat at the point guard position. I don’t think about Lebron covering Rondo because if he’s moved no one on the Heat will be able to sufficiently guard Kevin Garnett down low. Period.
With that, Rajon Rondo needs to understand that it’s his time to make something happen in this series on both ends of the floor. He’s got to make things open up on offense or else the Celtics will be doomed as an 85 point team for the duration of this series. During the second quarter of game one we witnessed what could happen if Rondo is allowed space in the open lane. His ability to consistently do that will depend on his teammates picking him up and their ability to do so at less than 100%.
It will be interesting to see how the Celtics, with all the injuries to key shooters and big men, if they can withstand the offensive and defensive tenacity of the Heat. Avery Bradley is their biggest loss with Ray Allen nursing a sore ankle, but they are capable of grinding down the Heat if they can remove James and Wade from their game. But that’s easier said than done.
In the end, as I stated before, this series and the Celtics chances will come down to their All-Star point man. Ironic because of the two comparison’s of superstar rosters they came out better where its most important: point guard. So it’s only fitting they rely on that strength, one the Heat desperately wish they had, to get back in this series and have a fighting chance.
Which could be all the Celtics need.